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First Class


Previous Entry First Class Jan. 17th, 2005 @ 07:38 am Next Entry
saved from yesterday while I was on the plane...

So, when I booked my ticket to Houston to see Rebecca, I'd booked it "Business Class"... this worked because i had the frequent flyer miles (because of overuse of my credit card, not because I'm a frequent flyer) and it really wasn't THAT much more than it was for the coach ticket... and I just didn't want to fly coach. So, as I look at my itinerary for my flight back I notice that somehow I've managed to be upgrade to first class for the trip back. WOOHOO! Three times the value for twice the price. ;) Most people that enjoy wasting money would call that a bargain... and it was free, so I'm taking it.

So that being said, I've always wondered what the hubub about first class was. The seats are bigger... BFD. Oh NO NO NO! It fucking ROCKS. Here, (hidden as politely as possible behind a LJCUT tag) is my First Class experience on United...

First of all, you're first. Getting on the plane. Since I'm going to talk about the experience on the Boeing 777 (the 737 from Houston to Chicago wasn't that fab), this is cool because it's forward of where you board the plane. Since it's forward, no one is bumping their bags against your arm (assuming you're in the isle seat) as they pass by into their pathetic coach accommodations. And you don't have all of those people glaring at you with disdain as they head to their half-sized seats in back. Also, where as most 777s have a 3-5-3 configuration in coach, First is a 2-2-2 configuration. That basically translates to MORE than double the space and most seats are isle seats (I got a window, but I prefer a window seat, so that works for me). There is no such thing as a "middle" seat in first class.

Another thing to note is that coach is maybe 2/3 to 3/4 of the plane. Coach has maybe 4-5 people serving it. First class is 1/4 of the plane tops, and it has... you guessed it... 4-5 people servicing it. This basically translates to someone walking past your seat at least once every 5 minutes, only asking you if you need anything if you have a concerned look on your face. That's 4x the service that you would get in coach. Rocks.

Okay... now we begin the experience. You sit down. You're still waiting for all of the cattle in coach to board, and you got on first, so you've got maybe a 30 minute wait. But it doesn't FEEL like that long... not when you've already got your drink in your hand. Yup... you're on the ground, and you're already liquoring it up. Let the party begin (I'm typing this on the plane, so at this point I've had 1 bloody mary, 4 glasses of wine, and a Bailey's, so I'm feelin pretty good). They do have to take your drink back before you takeoff, but don't worry about that... they're more than happy to give you more once you're in flight.

Then the flight begins, and the drinks start flowing. Anything you want that they have is yours... and in unlimited quantity (assuming you don't make an ass of yourself). Then the towel service comes around... a STEAMING hot towel to clean your hands and "freshen up" with (no, not there... this isn't a vagisil commercial). Some people put it on their face, some just their hands, but whatever works for you, go with it. By the way... would you like anything else to drink? Yes sir.

After a while one of the attendants walks by asking "Mr. Mullendore, what would you like for dinner tonight? I have a beef tenderloin and a pecan-crusted chicken entree..." "Filet, please..." "Thank you, Mr. Mullendore" (did I mention she actually pronounced my name right?) (insert more wine service here)... after a short while more (you're half way into the movie of your choice) someone comes around handing out linens. Mind you, I have no idea what this is for... I'm thinking it's the napkin that I put in my lap. Nope... it's the TABLECLOTH. Fucking tablecloths! Can you believe it?! Oh... more wine.

Dinner comes around... on your own private tray, arranged as though it came from a 3 star restaurant (for 40,000 feet in the air, that's impressive) on CHINA. Nice, thin, china. Reasonably good stuff. Wow. Filet with sauce, sauteed zucchini/onions/mushrooms and a twice-baked potato with a salad (with real parmigiano reggiano... and yes, I'd know) and your choice ranch or caesar dressing. And wine. And then the bread service comes floating around... warmed bread in a basket with butter. It's the fact that it comes in the basket that's cool... gives it that "extra" touch. The attendant has tongs to place it on your tray... but I didn't know that and reached right in with my fingers. I'm white trash... so what. I didn't touch anybody else's :P Of course, the wine keeps flowing, though at this point I've asked for some water too.

Okay... dinner's done, and it was yummy. Back to my book. Oh... coffee? Yes, I'd like some coffee... thank you. mmmm... coffee...

Now the unexpected part... DESSERT! "Sir, would you like a hot-fudge sunday? Would you like an afterdinner drink? Courvoisier? Kahlua? Baileys? Would you like that on the rocks, or straight-up? Here you are sir, thank you." FUCKING A! There's a dessert course?! Now, most that know me know that as far as dinner goes, it's never complete without dessert... but this I really wasn't expecting. This is nice. Did I mention that it had fresh whipped cream, nuts, and the cherry on top? ...or that it as both vanilla and chocolate ice cream? Did I mention that it was Haagen-Dazs? Excuse me while I clean up after my Joygasm(tm). "May I have a refill on my baileys, please? Straight-up, thank you." :)

At this point, touchdown is only an hour away, but it doesn't feel like much. Just sitting there reading my book while I sip my baileys. That was good. Damn good. I'm going to have to spend a lot more money in order to work up the points on my United Visa card ;)
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Date:January 17th, 2005 04:31 pm (UTC)
Yeah... I saw those on my way to Denver when I was going to Houston... basically, instead of two seats, it's one seat on the sides, and each seat is it's own little compound, with everything you need... they're turned at a 45 degree angle to the front so you can lay back fully... I was sad I didn't get those on the way back :(
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Date:January 17th, 2005 06:02 pm (UTC)
This is why I fly business class or better on any flight more than five or six hours, particularly the 11 hour run from SFO to LHR. I don't mind being in cattle class domestically because it's short, and I'm usually optimizing for cost, within certain parameters like insisting on non-stop flights between where I am and where I'm going.

One thing to watch out for, though: the typical airliner is pressurized to about 6,000 feet altitude (i.e. just like Lake Tahoe where I live), and the cabin air is always dry (low relative humidity). In those conditions, it's very easy to dehydrate, and that will make any hangover you get from excessive consumption of alcohol even worse.

Watch the road warriors - the other people in biz or first who've clearly done it many before. I bet you'll find that the majority of them will have alcohol for taste, but none of them will get sloshed.

Some advice that my Dad gave me a number of times: when you're young & unattached, get a job that requires travel. This is good because you get to see places you might not otherwise see (which can be an experience in learning what places to avoid; there's a reason why after travelling a lot, Dad never moved away from the SF bay area), and you live on an expense account, so your salary largely goes into your savings and investments.
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Date:January 17th, 2005 08:16 pm (UTC)

you spelled "potato" with an "e" on the end, dear

Chris, I'm so happy your trip back was so rapturous, and that you had a Joygasm(TM). But you mustn't spell potato with the extra e, or people will assume that you are Dan Quayle in disguise and they might shoot at you. I know I would... And now that we've had our daily safety tip, let's return to our regularly scheduled programming...
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Date:January 17th, 2005 09:27 pm (UTC)

Re: you spelled "potato" with an "e" on the end, dear

Okay... snippy replies deleted and spelling updated for the anal ;) Luv you, huney :)
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Date:January 17th, 2005 09:15 pm (UTC)
First Class does rock. I just can't imagine actually paying for it (I've either gotten courtesy upgrades or those frequent flyer upgrades were awesome before they stopped letting you use them on the discount fares).

What sucks though (as I learned when I used to get the upgrades) is that it depends on the equipment. Some give you the experience like you had, with personal TVs (I even had one plane where the seats reclined back flat!) And other times you get some crappy, old leather seat with a bit more room and better service but nothing more. I just can't image that someone would pay over $1k for that!
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